Intended for healthcare professionals


Covid-19: Delays in getting tests are keeping doctors from work, health leaders warn

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: (Published 25 September 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m3755

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  1. Jacqui Thornton
  1. London, UK

It is getting harder for hospital doctors to get covid-19 tests quickly for themselves, according to the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), amid concerns that NHS staff absences are being caused by a lack of access to testing.

A survey by the RCP of 898 of its members this week (22 September) asked if they had had a polymerase chain reaction test in the past two weeks. Of those who had, 80% were able to access testing within 24 hours, down from 88% in the previous survey in July.1

While absences from work are low—at 6.5% of those questioned—40% of the doctors surveyed who are off work say it is because they are self-isolating while awaiting a test for someone in their household.

Andrew Goddard, president of the RCP, said testing remains an “enormous problem.”’ This is the RCP’s sixth survey tracking the impact of the pandemic on the workforce. Goddard said, “We must ensure that rapid testing …

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